I live in King of Prussia, home of the largest shopping mall on the East Coast. It’s a quiet town for most of the year, but during the month of December, it can be challenging to get home at any time of day. As I was driving earlier, the traffic to the mall added fifteen minutes to my commute and so I took some time to reflect on what was transpiring. All of these people are rushing to the mall with a singular purpose in mind – they want to get gifts for someone. And what’s more interesting than their shared purpose is that many of them are purchasing things that they want other people to have rather than purchasing what they think those people want.
Some are purchasing gifts for an office gift exchange or for their classmates at school. The gifts will be inexpensive – often things that can be found on sale. Many of them will be given to someone else before the holiday season is over. But the recipient know that these are not lifelong treasures – they’ve agreed to the limited value of the gift beforehand – and so the exchange is acceptable.
Some will buy very expensive gifts. They will seek to impress with the price tag of the item that they will give the object of their affection. But you’ll often find that all of the glitter and sparkle doesn’t really satisfy. An item can come at a premium cost, but have no actual value.
Other gifts are well intentioned. People know your sense of style and the things that make you happy, but when they present you with their purchase, you find that it’s the wrong size. Or maybe you own the item already. There’s nothing wrong with the item at all. But it just doesn’t fit you well. Or it’s just taking up space because you already have one. If you delay, you’ll end up getting stuck because you only have a limited time to return these items.
A few are unexpected – they are wonderful surprises that are not in response to another gift, but just because someone wanted to do something special. There’s great value in these baubles because you may have never realized how much you were missing these pieces of life’s puzzle until you were pleasantly caught off guard.
But then there are a few gifts given during the season that sprinkled with love and wrapped with care that actually speak to the heart of the receiver. The giver knew that, more so than even wanting the item, you needed it. Looking at it will get you through some dark days ahead. Wearing it will warm you when nights seem long and cold. These relationship tokens speak to the bonds of friendship between two people and allow them to maintain a connection even when miles threaten to separate them. Gifts like these are precious treasures, even when they don’t cost very much.
And then I thought, some people are just like gifts. Some bring limited value and some just don’t fit and, honestly, it’s not their fault. But for those who have surprised me by springing into my world unexpectedly and bringing such tremendous value, thank you for all that you do to make my life richer. And for those who were given by an unseen Giver who knew that I’d need you in my life to help when days are dark and nights are cold, I appreciate you more than you know.
Happy holidays. May you always be amazed and inspired by the spirit of giving.